The Brick Store
Description: From its opening in the early 1830's, the Brick Store served as an important social and financial center for the community of Fairfield. The store has also been owned or run by women through out the years, from the Soule sisters, who owned it at the turn of the century, to Gertrude Howrigan to today’s owner, Pat Edsen. .
Directions: Fairfield Center is 8 miles from Bakersfield on 36W. Coming from St. Albans, Fairfield Center is 7.5 miles on 36E. Store is on your right at crossroads and a public parking lot is on your left.
Hours and Contact Info: Pat Esden, 827-6160 open 7 days a week in summer.
From its opening in the early 1830's, the Brick Store served as an important social and financial center for the community of Fairfield. Women not only learned the latest gossip and fashions, but also about the newest inventions and political ideas. It was also one place a woman's words were heard and her influence had a chance to move beyond the home and church, into the community at large.
In the summer of 1918 Jim and Gertrude Howrigan rented the Brick Store from the Soule sisters, Mrs. AA Patton, Mrs. McCuen, and Mrs. AG Hawley. The store was used, as it always had been, to sell a wide variety of merchandise - from grocery items, to hardware, to sewing goods.
Some years later, in the 1940's, when her husband was employed by the Cary Maple Syrup Company, Gertrude and her son, Edward, ran the store. At this time a portion of the store was used as a Post Office. The postmistress was Mrs. Hawley. Starting in 1933 the United States Postal Service allowed women to become postmasters, and the women in Fairfield were quick to apply for this desirable position. Gertrude continued to run the store until her retirement in 1953.
If you think about the history that Gertrude witnessed, what the women of this rural community discussed within the wall of this store, it is amazing: two World Wars, the introduction of electric power to the village, woman's vote, Prohibition (sales were great for peppermint extract), the Great Depression, horses and wagons replaced by cars, the decline of the small villages as the population became more mobile and reached out beyond their community - and so many more events, both local and world wide.
The Brick Store today? Different merchandise (what they called new now sells as an antique), but the store is still open and still a place where a woman, Patricia Esden, runs a business.